Saturday, February 26, 2011

Choose Your Medieval Adventure

Men's hearts hold shadows darker than any tainted creature - Flemeth

Bioware's titles have had a profound effect on me; given their quality, they have effectively ruined many or most offerings from other studios. Clearly, the Canadian developer has steadily crafted a list of RPGs which have made a mark on the industry. The fact that EA joined forces with the developer further exemplifies that said publisher is extremely savvy in acquiring studios.

From the initial race and class selection, Dragon Age: Origins shines. Tolkien myth may have produced wonderful novels and films, but the open-endedness of a next-gen game stands on its own. Do you want to play as an elf who has been enslaved by ruthless humans? Fine, as the developer wisely presents the notion that humans are far scarier than any Darkspawn.

DA:O presents consequences to your actions; characters join and leave your party, they become angry or content with your opinions and have a very distinct personality. Morrigan, a female mage, is of particular interest here; the ultimate cynic, rejoicing in things like harassing a Cleric, while Leliana offers an interesting counterpoint, that of a self-righteous rogue beginning to doubt herself. The battle system is wonderfully addictive, and for an ex-FPS gamer, a very welcome breath of fresh air.

The inherent freedom the RPG genre presents results in the choice to deal with adversaries as you see fit. The Desire Demon controlling a Templar? Do your thing, fine by me. The Blood Mages at the Circle Tower? I didn't have the least desire to kill them either, I would have joined them given the chance; yet I did not play as a mage. The Tranquil are also of interest in how they deal with the darkness that lurks.

When I finally visited Orzammar, the city of the Dwarves, I couldn't help to think of India when they mentioned their cruel and unjust caste system. I don't know if this is done purposely by the developers, but a vivid example of the injustice in the bleak India is always welcome in any media, and, in how many blockbuster movies do you see this topic depicted, even if only metaphorically?

I managed to track down the Ultimate Edition, which comes packed with all the DLCs released. I have not yet moved to that part, but needless to say it's a wonderful addition any gamer would be happy to enjoy even after Dragon Age II is released.